Friday, February 8, 2013

Cage Homes of Hong Kong

by Clifford F. Thies

The cage homes of Hong Kong have become the latest whipping boy of that tremendously successful capitalistic jurisdiction. Hong Kong is one of the most economically free countries in the world. Indeed, according to the Heritage Foundation's index, it's the most economically-free place. And, just as you would suspect, with its economic freedom, it has a vibrant economy and has recently surpassed the U.S. in GPD per capita (PPP basis). But, don't you even think that the media would focus on the success of Hong Kong in not merely ending poverty but in crating wealth. No, they have are focused on one of the consequences of a flourishing economy, which is increasing value of real estate and how people, in a free economy, deal with housing becoming increasingly expensive.

A recent innovation to make housing more affordable is the so-called cage home. A cage home is a bunk bed outfitted with wire cage. The cage homes are stacked up to four high, with possibly two stakes of cage homes within a small apartment. The renters share the bathroom, kitchen and dining areas of the apartment, but each sleeps in his own cage bed and - when out of the apartment - secures his belongings in his cage. The cage homes of Hong Kong are similar to the drawer-beds of Japan. A way for people to cut down on the cost of housing. Instead of paying, say. $800 a month for a studio apartment, the tenant pays $200 and shares the apartment with three other people.

From what I could tell from the misrepresentations of the media, the typical cage-home tenant is a single man, a person who, in this country, might be homeless, living on the street, mooching off society either with the assistance of government programs or of soft-headed passers-by. Perhaps the Hong Kong cage-home tenant is a pensioner or working at a modestly-paying job. With a cage-home, the person has a place of his own, at a price he can afford, albeit with common areas shared with others who are unrelated and perhaps even complete strangers.

There may be valid concerns for the adequacy of cage-home apartments, for example, natural light and ventilation, and (absolutely) minimum size. We trust the government of Hong Kong addresses these concerns. But, we, at Libertarian Republican, are not repulsed by he cage homes of Hong Kong. In fact, some of us recall when we ourselves lived in Army barracks and in Navy bunks, living a simpler life and celebrating freedom from having family responsibilities and so much stuff.

Dr. Thies is a professor of economics at Shenandoah Univ. in VA. (Photo credit -


John Morris said...

Hong Kong, I think also has very strict controls on immigration from the rest of China. Lot's of people willing to break in for the opportunity to live there.

Chuck said...

Unless everyone can live in a house, no one should.

Also, if one person loses an arm in an accident, everyone should have one of their arms cut off...and if someone else loses an arm, then no one should have arms.

Fair is fair.